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At some point in the design process, we'll need to create a hard copy of our work. Let's look at how we can create a quick print of our drawing for review purposes. On my screen, I have a drawing of a Split Rail Fence Detail. Let me mention that the units in this drawing are set to decimal inches. As you can see, the detail measures 18 inches wide by 14 inches tall. Now, I'd like to produce a hard copy of this drawing and I don't need this to be a formal plot with a Title Block and everything. I just want to put this drawing on paper so I can give it to a client for their review.
To do that, I'll move up to the Quick Access Toolbar and I'll launch the Plot command. This brings up the Plot Dialog Box. And first of all, if you have any questions about Plotting, you can use this hyperlink and AutoCAD will walk you through the plotting process. Likewise, if you have any questions about Plot Settings, simply hover over the Setting and AutoCAD will give you a more detailed description. Let's start out by selecting a printer. I'm going to open up the Printer Name fly-out and let's take a look at these printers at the top of the list.
These represent System Printers that are connected to my machine or visible on my network. Generally speaking, these are the same printers that you'd see when printing from a program like Microsoft Word. Now each person's system is different. So the list of printers that you see on my screen probably will now match yours. Let's look at these printers at the bottom of the list. Notice they have a different icon. These represent virtual printers that are installed with AutoCAD 2011. Now since I don't have a physical printer connected to my computer, I'm going to use the DWG To PDF Virtual Printer.
I'd like you to select any printer connected to your machine that will print to a letter size, physical piece of paper. Next, let's look at Paper Size. I want to print this to a Letter Size Sheet, otherwise known as ANSI A. It measures 8.5 by 11 inches. If I click this fly-out, you can see that I have several other paper choices. Let me mention that this list will change depending on the printer that you choose. You'll only see Paper Sizes that work with your selected printer. So, I'm going to leave this set to ANSI A. On your system, you may have to select a letter.
Now, let's talk about Plot Area. This is where I tell AutoCAD, how much of the drawing I'd like to print. There's a few ways I can do this. I'm going to click this fly-out and I'll select Window. And then I'll click a point in the upper left, and then I'll come down and click a point in the lower right. Essentially, I'm using this rectangle to define my Plot Boundary. Now, let's talk about Plot Offset, where do I want my drawing on the paper. I'm going to select center of the plot and when I do, watch this little preview.
Notice, AutoCAD centers the drawing on the sheet. As far as this preview is concerned, the large rectangle represents my paper boundary and the hatched rectangle represents the size of my drawing. Next, we'll talk about Plot Scale. Right now, this is set to Fit to Paper, and this is probably the worst choice that you can make. Normally, we want to print our drawings to a measurable scale, so I'm going to turn this off. Then I'll open up the Scale list and notice that I have several of the standard engineering and mechanical scales at the top of the Menu.
And down at the bottom, I have several architectural scales. If this drawing was set for architectural units, I'd be using these scales. Let's try and print this drawing at a scale of one-to-one. And notice, based on the preview, this red rectangle shows me that the drawing is larger then my piece of paper. And that stands to reason, since the drawing measures 18 X 14 Inches. Let's try and print the drawing at half scale or one-to-two.
Based on the preview, looks like this will work. If you'd like to create your own custom Scales, you can use these settings right here. If I wanted to print this at a scale of one-to-three for instance, I'd change this value to 3, I'll press Tab to accept that. Essentially what this means is, one printed inch equals three units in Model Space. And since my Model Space units are inches, this drawing will plot at one-third of its normal size. I'm going to set this back to half scale, I'll do that by changing this number to 2 and I'll press Tab.
Then I'll come down and click Preview. And as you can see, I have a representation of my printed sheet. Now, this Plot Preview works just like Model Space. I can use my scroll wheel to zoom-in or pan around the drawing. If I get a little closer, you can even see the Pen Weights on my lines. Now, there's only one problem. Everything is wanting to plot using the Layer Color. Let's address that issue. I'm going to X to close this preview and then I'll click this More Than button to expand the Plot Dialog Box to give me access to the additional settings.
I will then click the Plot style table fly-out and I'm going to select some pens. I'll select the monochrome pen table and then I'll click Yes. We'll talk about the concept of Pen Tables in much more detail a little bit later. I'm going to select Preview again, and notice that my Plot Preview looks more like what you'd expect. At this point, I'm ready to create my print, so I'm going to close the preview, and I'll click OK. Now, if you just plotted your drawing to your printer, your paper is probably already coming out.
Since I'm plotting mine to a PDF, I have to give my plot file a name. I'm going to save my PDF on the Desktop and I'll call it split rail detail, and I'll click Save. The image that you see on screen is an example of my final plot. If your drawing doesn't require the formality of a Title Block, plotting a window from Model Space is a great way to produce a hard copy of your design.
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